Sunday, June 15, 2008

Tomato Tart

I'm tired too after a long week... Move over Emily, I'm gettin' in for a snuggle. These days I'm keeping my cooking quick and simple!

Tim had bought a bunch of tomatoes when he hit the grocery store because they looked so fresh. They were on the vine and they were nice. But there was no way he would eat them all this week in salads and on sandwiches so I decided I would make something with them. I wanted something we could take for lunch this week so I settled on a tomato tart.

First I started with some Pillsbury pizza dough but puffed pastry would have been excellent too. I spread the dough out in a deep dish pie dish and precooked it like the instructions on the package say (400 for 8 minutes). I had some dough leftover so I made another tart base in a small casserole dish. You don't need anything special, just a baking dish with sides. You can spread the dough as far up the side as you like or as little as you like.

I brushed the cooked dough with a olive oil/balsamic mixture, going light on the balsamic. I didn't have any fresh basil but I did have some freeze dried basil (yup, it comes that way) so I sprinkled that on the crusts. I would have used fresh or if I didn't have anything else on hand I would have used some dried Italian seasoning. Then I thinly sliced the tomatoes and placed a layer on the crust. I topped that with goat cheese, finely shredded asiago, parmesan and mozza. I did another layer of tomatoes and then another of cheese. I even threw on some feta. We had a lot of little bits of cheese so I used them up. It wasn't all cheese. I cooked for another 12 minutes at 400.

Yum! I had 2 slices right then and there, some for lunch the next day and guess what I'm having for lunch today?! And this dish would freeze well so guess what I'll be making when tomato season hits us full force....

Friday, June 13, 2008

Marinating your meat.

Are you ready for some BBQ?! Yes it is finally that time of the year. I know some of you have been bbqing for a while now but it is slow to warm up here in Atlantic Canada. We are at the point now where it's still perfect, warm but not yet hot. Some call it spring...we call it lucky. Typically we go from cold and rainy to full on hot. Spring is not an Atlantic Canadian season. Now Fall, that we get, in spades. The Fall is amazing here. Come, visit, see, do, it's fantastic! But I digress.

I wanted to talk about bbqing. Last night I did some steaks on the barbie at my mom's. It can be hard when using a strange grill to get them just like you like them. Ours were a little overdone. However, they weren't dry or tough because we had marinated them in some Worcestershire sauce, apple cider vinegar and Ms. Dash grilling seasoning overnight. Mom mentioned that she never plans ahead to get that much marinating time on her meat before it hits the bbq. Most of us don't.

So here's a simple solution. Put your meat in the marinade before you freeze it! Then as it freezes and defrosts all those great flavours are getting into the meat. And if you use an acid, like fruit juice, vinegar, etc (wine may impede the freezing process so use only a little) the meat fibers will be nice and tender when they hit the grill. I do this a lot in the summer time with beef, pork, lamb and chicken. You have to be more careful with fish since it take marinades quickly. I just leave fish and seafood out of this freeze ahead marinate process. 20 minutes in a marinade is enough for fish or seafood to get infused with flavor and you don't risk cooking the fish or seafood before hitting the bbq with the acid in the marinate. Easy!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken and Orzo Salad

I am sitting here eating the most wonderful lunch. I've actually debated trying to get a pic of it from my camera phone to share with you but I know that the camera on my phone isn't that good....Friday night Tim made a real tasty supper. He flattened out some chicken breasts, stuffed them with a little bit of goat cheese, then dipped the breasts in beaten egg and then some Italian seasoned bread crumbs. He then heated some olive oil in a saute pan and cooked them on the stove. We had some sauteed asparagus with roasted garlic with it. Tim had taken out an extra breast to make some for lunches. See this is the whole "cook once, eat more than once" mentality. It's easier just to make extra when you cook and then have it for another meal or lunch. We ended up with 3 portions of stuff chicken out of that one breast that was just perfect for lunches.

Sunday I made a side dish to go with the leftover chicken. I took some asparagus and red onion and diced them up nice and small then sauteed them in a non stick pan with some cooking spray. I put some orzo on to boil. Once it was cooked I drained it and tossed it with the asparagus, red onion, some goat cheese and a pinch of salt (it needed it). I finished it all off with a splash (about 1 tbsp for 4 -5 lunch side servings) of this wonderful pumpkin oil Tim brought back from Austria. You could use a good olive oil if you don't have the pumpkin oil. And I now have another serving to enjoy with something else later in the week. My goddess, I love planning ahead!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

New Employee

Wondering why I haven't been blogging about anything tasty lately? I'm newly employed, homeless and dead tired. Yup, The Gourmet Goddess has gone back to the real world. I'm also working in another city so I'm staying with my folks while I find a place of my own. All this means that at the end of the day I get a home cooked meal 'mom' style. Last night we had stew. It was over +20 C but stew seemed like a good idea to my mother. In her defence, there are so many black flies on her deck, there is no way to bbq without being eaten alive before you actually eat!

I am going to talk about lunches though, since I'm back to packing them. I have a couple of different sandwich ideas. One is with sliced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella (the kind in water, not the hard stuff) and basil. I put a little bit of balsamic vinaigrette on the bread for an extra kick of flavour. A crusty bun of some sort is best. Tasty! The other sandwich idea I think I have spoken of before but it is so tasty that it's worth mentioning again. Hummus, veggies and feta on a tortilla wrap. Oh - my- goddess, it is tasty. Be mindful of the soggy tomato syndrome though. I put the hummus on the tortilla when I'm packing my lunch and dice up tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, just a bit of red onion (working with people all day, must be nice!) and feta and put them in a separate container. At lunch time I just open up the tortilla and add in my veggie/feta mix. Super healthy as well as super tasty.

What about snacking? Well if you sit at a desk all day it's impossible not to snack. I like some Wasa and cheese. Wasa is a brand name of what I call Swedish crisp bread although you see it all over Europe. Wasa is apparently made in Germany but I swear it used to say "made in Sweden". There is a crown on the logo and there hasn't been a monarchy in German in quite a while. Sweden, on the other hand, has a royal family, lovely people, not blond, oddly enough ... That's a myth, that all swedes are blond. There are some of the best colourists in Sweden...

Some other light snacks:
  • Veggies and dip, ranch or hummus
  • Baked tortillas and salsa (I like to take the Weight Watchers tortillas, cut them into triangles, sprinkle with some tex mex seasoning, toast them and then have them with salsa. You can do this ahead of time or on the job if you have a toaster oven around)
  • Cup of soup is a good one especially if the AC in your office is set to frigid
  • Popcorn, either popped ahead (I use a pan and oil and do it the old fashioned way at home) or popped in the micro on site. the snack size bags are great but be honest, everyone comes for by for a visit when they smell fresh popcorn coming from your desk.
  • Cheese and crackers. This is not a common snack but lots of us need a carb and some protein to get through the day. My favs - Low fat triscuits and light cheddar.
  • Laughing cow cheese (light is like 1 point for 2 wedges!), light cream cheese or even peanut butter on crackers, wasa, cucumber slices (okay, maybe not with peanut butter)
  • Melon wedge wrapped in prosciutto. Now that's decadent!

Thing is you are likely going to snack. Plan for it instead of against it. I plan a morning and afternoon snack. I usually have either fruit or yogurt for my morning snack, not exciting but it does the trick. If I don't eat everything in my lunch then I already have them for tomorrow's lunch bag. A lot of us are grazers, eating smaller bits more frequently. This is considered more healthy and can put a couple of nice dents in your workday. Make sure to count your lattes or special coffees as treats or snacks. They are full of calories and need to be recognized as more than just a drink! Speaking of which, I'm going for a skinny vanilla latte right now. My afternoon is looking brighter already!